The insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) and their regulatory proteins-IGF receptors and binding proteins-are strongly implicated in cancer progression and modulate cell survival and proliferation, migration, angiogenesis and metastasis. By regulating the bioavailability of the type-1 IGF receptor (IGF1R) ligands, IGF-1 and IGF-2, the IGF binding proteins (IGFBP-1 to -6) play essential roles in cancer progression. IGFBPs also influence cell communications through pathways that are independent of IGF1R activation. Noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), which encompass a variety of RNA types including microRNAs (miRNAs) and long-noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), have roles in multiple oncogenic pathways, but their many points of intersection with IGF axis functions remain to be fully explored. This review examines the functional interactions of miRNAs and lncRNAs with IGFs and their binding proteins in cancer, and reveals how the IGF axis may mediate ncRNA actions that promote or suppress cancer. A better understanding of the links between ncRNA and IGF pathways may suggest new avenues for prognosis and therapeutic intervention in cancer. Further, by exploring examples of intersecting ncRNA-IGF pathways in non-cancer conditions, it is proposed that new opportunities for future discovery in cancer control may be generated.
© 2022. The Author(s).